Friday, April 30, 2004

i love my job

I can't really talk right now; I have to go put some rented wheelchairs in the car and take a shower and run around the block a few times.

That last because I just did a killer interview with an artist whose work I've admired for several years.

Interviews are so tricky, and everything I know about doing them I pretty much figured out myself or kludged together from anthropology interview techniques I learned in school. And then, some people are just hard to interview. This woman wasn't, and she was so lively and positive that I came away feeling elated in a way that I haven't in a long while. Happy, yes, in a muted way. But not giddy, which is pretty much the only word that fits the way I was jumping around in Mom's room after I hung up the phone. Because not only was it great to talk to this artist, who is about to bring her work to SF, but she agreed to come to a bellydance class with me (her work is related to body issues, it seemed like an appropriate invitation when I extended it), which is so incredibly cool I can't believe it.

Yep, big professional writer person, that's me. Hop, hop.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

first, do no harm

As if I needed more proof that Michigan is becoming ever more terrifying, a few nights ago I learned of four pieces of legislation that have passed the State House. Taken together, they would form the Conscientious Objector Act, and they could literally be deadly.

Here's a link to the Michigan Legislature and HB 5006, with fiscal analysis and all that good stuff. And here's a simplified version of what the bills would do, from the Detroit Free Press.

Now, the Conscientious Objectors these bills would empower aren't trying to avoid serving in the military--they're medical personnel, and the definition of such is very, very broad--who for one reason or another do not wish to perform a procedure, administer a drug or test, or perform medically-related research. The reasons given as acceptable under the bill's language are ethical, moral, or religious objections. A health worker also cannot deny lifesaving service, under this act, but there's a loophole involving the presence of an attending physician. And if an employee of a healthcare organization objects to something that comprises 25% or more of their work obligation (counted as hours), they can be fired--but they must be given at least two months' notice. There are other protections and caveats, but these are the bare bones.

What is not so clear is what protections are available to patients. Although these "conscientious objectors" cannot refuse to treat patients on the basis of race, gender, religion, or national origin, that's only because these are protected classes established by the Eliot Larson Act.

Eliot Larson has no clauses regarding gay folk. Or the indigent. Or the incarcerated. Or the mentally unhinged. So conceivably, a pharmacist could refuse to fill a prescription for Acyclovir if she did not approve of her customer's homosexuality--or perceived homosexuality. A prison doctor could choose not to treat a man convicted of murder, which is doubly wrong considering the too-high rate of false convictions. And what of the homeless, particularly the mentally ill among them?

And the related question is this: How could a court prove that a CO wasn't really operating from bias based on race, color, gender? A clever enough defendant could claim some other reason for choosing to withhold treatment. This slope is far too slippery, even for those classes of people it supposedly won't affect.

I can see only one bright thing about all this, which is that people who oppose animal testing could not be forced to participate as part of their employment. But then again, jobs that involve animal testing are usually pretty upfront about that aspect. It's not like you sign on to be a nurse in the maternity ward, and suddenly you're injecting red-eyed little mice with botulism. The point holds across the spectrum of medical practice. Job hunter, beware! If you're opposed to doing certain procedures (abortions being an obvious example), well, don't go looking for a job at Planned Parenthood, for cryin' out loud.

Where and when did the Hippocratic Oath get misplaced? My father's old high school buddy, who flew in from California with his wife to see us last weekend, was standing behind me reading a printed-out email about this legislation. He's a neurologist, and by the time we got done reading, he was nearly jumping up and down and waving his fists. This sort of "pick and choose who you want to treat" idea ran completely counter to his understanding of his responsibility as a doctor.

Welcome to Michigan was, sadly, all I could offer in the way of explanation.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

what he said

Have you noticed that when Micah Holmquist posts a link, sometimes every letter in the highlighted section takes you to a different place? That is some intense shit. Forgive me if this is old hat to everyone else, but remember that I just tonight figured out how to send a text message. I am even more convinced now that I need to jump in the car and drive the three and a half hours to Cadillac so I can peek in his windows and learn all his blogacious secrets.

Anyway. I just wrote this long post about 3Jake being circumspect about writing to other bloggers, and then one careless fingerswipe knocked it out. Completely demoralized (and anxious to go Eat More Chocolate and then crash) I leave you instead with a very interesting article from Jordy Cummings about being an American Jew who believes Ariel Sharon is a butcher. Cummings hits many of my points, and does it more knowledgably. Thanks Micah.
whatever happened to good old pen pals?

AX is in Oregon for a week, without access to a computer or anything approaching his usual social life. So we've been having these ultra-high-tech written discussions (Indri finally joins the world of text messaging!) via our cell phones.

It's good clean fun; lately we've been analyzing the novel Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I think it's thoroughly coated in Pratchett, but AX notes (typing, he says, a blazing 3 wpm) that the characters of the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse are very Gaimanish. On further reflection I have to note too that as silly as the book is, it's emotionally deeper than Pratchett tends to go, a depth I ascribe to Gaiman's contribution.

It will be nice when he gets back, and can start blogging again. Hopefully he'll share with everyone his thoughts on "The Swan", some kind of dreadful television thing with plastic surgery. I'm just trying to make him use the word "robobimboized" in public (there you are, dear, the gauntlet's been dropped.) Keep checking back and I'll post the link if he takes it up.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

avoid mexican candy

In a break from our regularly scheduled programming of grieving and eating too many dill-pickle-flavored Lay's potato chips, I have to share this scary piece about lead in Mexican candy. It seems that researchers testing Mexican candy purchased in California stores have found lead in as many as one out of every four samples; you will recall that lead causes brain damage, especially in kids. The article doesn't specify brands or manufacturers, but suggests that the factories where the candy is made are not exactly sanitary.

Think ancient Rome for a minute. Got it?

Almost as horrifying as the news that 15% of the children with lead poisoning ate this candy is this quote from Jim Waddell, chief of the Food and Drug branch of the California State Health Department, who said "We have a lot more responsibilities than looking for lead in candy."

What other responsibilities would those be, Jim?

Over the past three years 3,000 kids have come down with lead poisoning. Is it meaningful that three-quarters of these children are Hispanic? Does testing candy for lead only become a public health priority when it's Anglo kids eating poisoned treats? I would like to believe that Waddell was badly misquoted, because if he really meant that statement, his head should be on a post.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

lake shore drive

Speaking of resonances, of elements of a life that pull back towards each other (and speaking, in particular, of my father's blues CDs), I have to mention how happy I am that a certain friend has reappeared in my life.

I met Fig when I was 14 and he was 17; he was an Exotic Older Man and we got into some trouble at a Model United Nations event (which should be enough, if he's reading, for him to recognize himself). I got kicked out as a result, but my parents were so impressed by how maturely Fig handled the situation that when he started bicycling insane distances to come see me (usually with little or no warning) they were cool with it, and I think they always harbored the secret belief (as did I, for a while) that he was the only man who would really ever do for me.

So when he got married a few years back--god, no, it's been at least six or seven now, hasn't it?--Dad wrote that while he was glad to hear it, he'd "always sort of been counting on that kid", which I thought was hilarious and sweet at the same time. I don't think Dad knew about Fig and his pal and I getting stoned in the pal's car before sneaking in to hear Lake Shore Drive play at Baker's, or some of the other things that might give a regular dad pause... but then, he wasn't, as my mother and I were just telling each other, that regular a dad.

Anyway. He tracked me down. He now has a lovely music educator wife and three completely wholesome-looking children, and I look at the photos on the Web site and think about wandering around East Lansing as a teenager. checking in the kitchens of various oddball restaurants to see if anyone knew where or with whom he might be crashing. Visiting San Francisco he filled my answering machine with poetry he was reading into a pay phone; later that same visit he got mugged and couldn't find his way back to my apartment, so he disappeared. He has always been the freest of the spirits I knew (as well as one of the more creative spellers), yet unassailably emotionally responsible for someone so apparently flighty. In Dad's word, honorable.

Another proof that appearances deceive. And looking at those healthy children, who have clothes and shoes and everything on (somehow, this seemed strange to me at first) the other night, the night between the funeral and the burial, was a huge comfort.

Thanks Fig.
bullet time

Still haven't told the boot story.

Or many of the details of the past few days, which have often bordered on the surreal. Long-unseen cousins having screaming matches in the restaurant parking lot. A gift basket that seemed more malign the longer I looked at it, leaving me no choice to attack with scissors (it's amazing, how well all that stuff is taped down) and butcher knife, trailing green easter grass all the way. The Detroit funeral home saying in my father's obit that he was my aunt's sister, and the Chicago one charging us twice for the same service (meaningful when we're talking about a couple thousand bucks). A fraternity brother of my father's showing up after forty years. The guy who came to pick up the hoist asking why we were returning it, and my mother saying flatly, my husband died, information that I had not, apparently, made clear to the woman who had answered the phone when I made the appointment.

But the most unreal aspect has to be what happens to time. The initial official mourning period is seven days from the time the deceased goes into the ground; if we were doing everything the way we're supposed to, all the mirrors would be covered (and I'm understanding the point of that, let me tell you) and all we would do is hang out keening all day. But there's the small matter of Shabbos falling right after we began sitting shiva, and you can't sit shiva on the Sabbath. Not to mention that we're sitting shiva at someone else's house altogether, making the whole thing more of a social experience. So we sat last night, Thursday, and we're sitting tomorrow night, Sunday, and Monday. After that, there are still levels of observance--you can't do such and so for nine weeks, or this other thing for a year, etcetera and so forth.

I didn't understand the system until now. I thought it had something to do with appearances, but now I grok that it's a way of marking time. Because you really need something; all the usual guideposts are gone, especially if you don't exactly have a job-job and have already committed to spending a month away from home. We sleep at night, sort of, and are awake during the day, but that's about it for things we do like everyone else.

Mom asks if we should watch the news and find out what's going on "out there", out there being a place that doesn't seem connected to us at all. We eat whatever's easy, which in my case today meant most of a bag of remaindered Easter candy, some Doritoes, and a wedge of the cheese from the butchered gift basket. We check our email (ahem). Mom smokes cigarettes and we talk about stuff. Like her moving to SF, who came to the funeral, whether we can find a theater to see "Kill Bill: Volume 2" where nobody will see us (it is unclear whether moviegoing falls under the heading of "amusments", from which she as the wife is supposed to abstain for thirty days, and I as the child for A YEAR), and what kind of man dad was. I suppose this is all good, it feels okay, but there's a certain, um, weightlessness to the experience.

Today I also started going through my father's CD collection. I've been tasked with pulling everything I want and that my mother might; the rest we'll sell or give to someone who can use them. It's not as bad as it sounds (my mother's cousin called and was horrified to learn what I was doing) and it's nice to have something to do. I think I'll hold onto some of his blues CDs for a while, see if I can hear what he was drawn to in them, but the Madonna, man, that can go.

Thursday, April 22, 2004


The shape of my family unit has totally changed.

I thought, by this time, I would want to talk about what the past two days have been like--the funeral, flying to Chicago for the burial, my boot adventure--but it's too much. I get overwhelmed. I'm a writer, yet I can't get it all down. It's too much.

So Spark just called, and it was good to hear from her, even if her long-awaited, just-moved-into new apartment is apparently killing her with mold. We talked for about twenty minutes, and then I was trying to save her number in my cell, and her entry is very close to "F"... where the one entry was "folks".

And I had to change it.

I erased the entry, which had been the landline number for my parent's apartment, and edited "Mom" (which had just been her cell) so it had the landline.

Then I hugged my stubbly knees to my chest and started crying. My sweat has smelled different, these past several days; although I'm bucking the traditional observance and keeping up with the soap and running water (and deodorant and Opium), I can still smell my grieving. It is not the honest sweat of exercise or sex, but neither is it the sickly sweetness of alcohol metabolizing through the skin. It's something else, acrid and insistent. It might have to do with all the sugar I'm eating, mindlessly; it could be any of a dozen things. But in my current emotional state, it is the smell of loss.

There were three of us. We were a unit. Now there are two. It's not just that there is a hole in my life, or in my mother's; now there's a space in the group hugs we had from the time I was so short that it was all knees to me. I am no longer surrounded, enveloped.

I don't think it's coincidental that I've been feeling taller, the past couple of days. And it's not just the boots, about which there is a funny story I will soon have to tell. There is a space I feel I will grow to fill, now, somehow. I felt it at the gravesite, when I took my hand from my aunt's so I could put my arm around her shoulders and she put her head on my shoulder. I thought I could delay my adolescence indefinitely, I tell people, by not getting married or pregnant, by not buying a house, by not having a "real" job.

But there are other things that grow us up. We are two-thirds, now, my mother and I, and we feel it so keenly that it barely needs to be spoken (although we have been talking, a lot, and repeating ourselves a lot too.) Eventually we will be some kind of whole again, but it's so hard to see from here.

Sunday, April 18, 2004


Yesterday my father told my mother that he was ready to die, and then he went to sleep. An hour later, he was gone.

My mother and I will be fine, but it may be a while before I speak of this again here. I fly out at 6 am tomorrow; the ceremony is Tuesday, the interment Wednesday. We begin sitting shiva Thursday. I don't know what the rabbis of old would have made of the Internet, but I daresay that if we're supposed to cover all the mirrors, rend our clothes, and wail for seven days while other people feed us, blogging is probably not entirely kosher.

So to speak.

I've already sent this e-mail, but I want to thank everyone again who knows me and has been so kind throughout this process. I have come to realize that it is not only a fantastic family-of-origin with which I have been blessed...

Friday, April 16, 2004

we are all stars

Here's a fun new blog about astronomy. Entries so far point to new planets, Ray Bradbury (who I was convinced was dead, but apparently I was wrong), and taking tea with chopsticks.
shakhmat; the king is dead

On the radio yesterday, I heard a woman talking about her husband, a Blackhawk pilot. She's (rightfully) very distressed that his division is not being brought back from Iraq at the promised time. Although, she tells us, he and his division are very proud that they have been asked to continue to serve, she doesn't know what to tell her children. Daddy has to keep working, she said, he can't come home yet.

Listening to her, hearing how much pain she was in, I started to well up myself. I feel for all the military families who had to look at the photos of charred, dead, American nationals hanging from that bridge in Fallujah. I can't begin to imagine how difficult it must be to have a loved one serving; I have had very few relatives who belonged to the armed services.

Then she said something, however, that drew me up short. And while I feel like revealing this suggests that I am basically a cold and awful person, I'm going to do it anyway.

I feel like he's become a pawn in the Administration's chess game.

And my first reaction was, well, yes, that is exactly what he is. But it didn't just happen when his division was told to hunker down; he did not suddenly become a pawn. He has always been a pawn. The analogy is perhaps more apt than she realizes or would care for, but then such is often the case when people don't use words carefully. On the board, the pawns are fodder. Unless one makes it all the way across and gets turned into a queen or something, which happens rarely, the best it can expect is to stand between its king and the opposing forces. I suppose being in the miltary's a little better; more opportunities to rise in the ranks. Which means what? Choosing which other bodies to put in the line of fire. Hopefully someday making it off the board with all or most of your limbs intact and a decent pension.

This woman's husband has chosen to stand between an opposing force... and George W. Bush and his cabinet. He's not just a pawn, he's a pawn in the hands of an imbecile. God help him.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

building frustration

I have nothing but sympathy for the people in my life right now; it is so hard to talk to someone who is going through a slow-motion tragedy, and I understand that. I understand it in a much more visceral way now that I’m on the other side of the process than I did when it was friends or coworkers who were watching a loved one slip away. It’s so hard to know what to say, what tone to take; whether to address the issue directly (“how are you doing, really?”) or whether to wait and watch for cues from the affected person. I know that people don’t really know what to say to me. But while I was able to be (I think) fairly gracious about it for a long time, as my father declines I am becoming increasingly crankier and more impatient, regardless of who the other party is and what they’re saying.

Last night was a prime example. Two prime examples. The first was Beard, a guy in the group I modeled for. Beard is a model himself, and actually got me this gig. He’s also the guy who encouraged me to audition for the Guild, and he’s been a great supporter--he’s always recommending me to artists, and telling me how fabulous a model I am, and so forth and so on until I’m pretty embarrassed. We’ve modeled together, which was okay (better for him than me, apparently, as we’ll see in a minute here) and we’ve talked a little bit. He knows what’s going on in my life, and knows that I’m being careful about not committing to jobs I think I might not be able to complete (I recently turned down an eight-week sculpture gig with a group he’s in, for what should be obvious reasons.) So as he was setting up his easel and I was getting undressed, he asked me how my dad was doing.
He’s going, I said, wanting to not have that conversation right before I got on the stand.
Are you going back? he asked. I nodded.
For a short visit?

Which seemed like a dumb question to me, but I let it go. Short visit? Hello? My father is now barely functional. He’s lucid, although he’s starting to miss things, and his memory seems to be slipping. My mother had just told me on the phone that she was upset because the visiting nurse who comes to bathe my dad hadn’t brushed his teeth, leading me to wonder why this woman had gotten into nursing in the first place. My mother is exhausted, the bedroom is full of medical equipment, the oncologist is giving her a hard time because Dad’s not in hospice care, and Beard is asking me if I’m going back for a short visit? What does he think I’m going to do? Sail in, say Hey dad, how’s the dying going?, and sail back out so I can come back to California double-quick and be naked in front of more artists?

No, that’s not how it works. I’m going home, and I’m staying as long as I need to. That is how it works. But I wasn’t going to get into it with Beard, so I made a noncommittal noise, set my egg timer for twenty minutes, and started in on the gesture poses.

I thought that was it, but as we were packing up at the end of the night, there was a discussion about next week’s session. I’d originally been scheduled to do it, but Kindness and I had agreed to move me to last night, in case I had to leave suddenly. She had then decided to do a double-model session, with Beard as one and a new woman I don’t know as the other. The new woman hasn’t committed yet, and Beard got all excited by the prospect of my taking her place, and the three of us talked about it a little. I got the distinct impression that Beard was prepared to call this other woman and ask her not to take the job, if it meant that I would do it. I couldn’t agree to that. I said that I would be happy to take the job if the other woman couldn’t make it and if I was still in town, but I couldn’t commit to it. And Beard kept pushing me to take it, and I started to get really peeved. Kindness stepped in and pointed out that while she was sure everyone would be fine with seeing me two weeks in a row and it would be great if I could do it, it absolutely depended on my schedule, and that I shouldn’t feel pressured. But Beard wasn’t getting the hint. It was like he just had no clue.

Although having a clue is not always helpful either. Generally I’m finding that people who have been through this have a better sense of what to say and when, but that’s not always true. Sometimes they’re the worst, at least for me to be talking to at a particular time. Maybe they’re still so involved in their own grieving process that in the process of trying to comfort me, they end up just going on and on about the details of their parent’s passing, and I can’t make them stop no matter what I do. One modeling client of mine, a woman with whom I only ever have phone contact, is a huge culprit. I hear the story of her trip home to take care of her ailing mother virtually every time we talk. It was fine and helpful the first time... but by the third time, I was getting pretty antsy. And especially since this is so delicate, I don’t feel like I can remind her that she’s told me the story before, as I could if it were a story about something else.

And then last night, after rescuing me from Beard, Kindness did the exact same thing. She gave me a ride to the BART station after the job (which was muted but good;apparently the screaming I was doing on the inside wasn’t visible on the outside, and this reminds me of something else I want to say about public nudity that will hold.) I tried to keep the conversation off my father because the last time she drove me to BART, I ended up just missing my train because we were talking, and I had to wait twenty-some minutes without a jacket and it was positively glacial on the platform. So this time, I chattered all the way to the station about trivial things, cheerful cheerful, everything’s fine. But as soon as the car was at the drop-off point, she put it in park and nailed me. Of course she wouldn’t see it that way, and I know it wasn’t her intent at all. I know she is trying to be helpful. But hearing the story about her mom again was not helpful in the slightest, and had the effect of totally puncturing what small good mood I had been able to pull together. She kept telling me that I should follow my heart on whether I call the airline and try to change my ticket so I can go back sooner, that I should take care of myself, do what seemed best to me, yet it was clear that she was still upset that she hadn’t been present when her mother passed, and that she was trying to influence me towards making the choice she wished she had. I virtually leapt out of the car, barely saying a decent goodbye; I mumbled something about how I had to go home right away and do some thinking and thankyouverymuchfortheride and got out before she could draw breath to start talking again.

I felt terrible about it, but I was angry too. Because right at the point where she had turned the conversation to my father and my situation, I had said, I am getting tired of talking about this. A statement people closer to me recognize as a warning sign that I’m about to get really defensive and unpleasant (Mom knows this one all too well, I think I got it from Dad) and an opportune moment to back the hell off, but that apparently isn’t strong enough for people who don’t know me as well. By the time I got out of the car I was shaking.

It is as if there really isn’t anything that anyone can say to me right now. Naiad got it right when I saw her at D’s on Sunday; she just gave me one of her big Valkyrie hugs where my toes drag on the floor and told me that if I ever needed her, she was the queen of cheap Internet airline fares and she would be there. AX tells me that I’m a good daughter (we’re reassuring each other a lot right now, as his father is in town looking at apartments so AX can keep an eye on him) and holds me when I cry. Many of my other friends tell me they’re sorry, and wait to see if I need to talk about it; when I don’t they easily change the subject. Other than Teutonia, who went off on a horrible riff about how my mother should just let go and let my father die (and that swiftly became understandable--and heartbreaking--when Teutonia revealed that her own mother won’t let her talk to her dying father), I usually feel like my friends have got the balance figured out.

Other people, maybe I just shouldn’t talk to right now. Fingers in my ears and la la laing all the way.

Monday, April 12, 2004

wonderful day yesterday

Just in time to cure some blues... I'm parked in a towaway zone, so I'll just lay out the bones.

1. Went out with Snufkina and her sweetie AND AX and his dad to D's place in the country, and everyone seemed to have a good time. AX's dad flirted with all the girls. It was very sweet.
2. Six goats one week old, and one one hour old! His little head was still wet when we got there!
3. Made earrings out of beer caps and Pokemon images and glitter glue. Haute couture. Yep.
4. Some people are more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Some people are the barrel, and the monkeys, and maybe a little tiger thrown in. I know someone like that now.
5. Modeling for fun people tonight.
6. Staying at Nomad's place while she terrorizes Paris. Creek running through the back yard, Pacific chorus frogs doing their number, skylights in the bedroom. Very, very nice.

In the middle of all the grief and uncertainty that marks my life right now, some days shine all the harder. I'm just sorry that something so sad has to be going on for me to see how blessed I am.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

"I'm one of the lucky ones... all they did was beat me."

I haven't said much here about our situation in Iraq because I feel like so many people are doing a better job than I on the Iraq blogging front. Not to mention that I bring it up when I can in my paid writing; sometimes whether or not it's really germane.

Which is why I'm pointing you to an entry by a 24-year-old woman who calls herself River. The ever-interesting Inveterate Bystander says of her that she is "a good writer but peevish and short on the political overview." I beg to differ; she may be peevish, but I'd say she has cause... and sometimes political overview isn't as important as telling a well-focussed story such as this chilling one about a young Iraqi woman trying to find her family members after their questionable arrest. I think it's critical that we see these stories, especially since we're not going to get them from our regular news outlets.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

(side)walk of shame

Huh. I just found this in my "drafts" folder; and here I'd thought it was lost forever. I actually wrote it in darkest, coldest, February, when I was in Michigan.

Driving west on 14 Mile today, I saw a church with one of those signs where someone has to get up on a ladder to change the text.

"Jesus Gave us a Cross-Shaped Valentine."

My first reaction, get me out of here. Something about the image just stuck in my gut, and I still can't figure out why. I had forgotten how strongly religious folks can get out here until I started seeing the crucifixes, listening to the radio talk shows, and hearing people talk about going to church. It doesn't bother me so much that people are so strong in their faith, I just resent the constant suggestion that Christianity is the right and only way. Made me nuts when I was a kid and the only Jew in my class, still makes me uneasy now that I live in San Francisco surrounded by Jews, Pagans, Buddhists, atheists, and all sorts of combinations. Faith is, in many ways, a much more varied--and private-- matter where I live.

Anyway. I am reminded that I meant to talk about all the other signs I've been admiring out here. In the northern suburbs, you really need to get a car to get around. Everything is spread out, there are few if any sidewalks, and the speed limit on the major roads is 45 miles per hour. Little subtle street numbers and discreet signs on businesses won't do it.

So you get freestanding buildings with big light-up signs that say things like Associated Hemmorhoid Clinic and Affiliated Acne Care. This cracks me up, although I suppose if I were actually heading into one of these places, I'd do it with a bag over my head. I mean, they're freestanding! You can't pretend you're actually heading into the next office over! If your friend is driving along on Coolidge and recognizes your SUV (there are a LOT of them out here, natch) in the parking lot of Drool Control Partners, there's no way you're going to be able to play it off.
l'il bean!

I so don't want to admit to this, but I just got sucked into Dogster. I was there looking for Fifi's dog Mason, and I couldn't find him, but I did discover that I could get the site to show me a randomized series of photos and factoids about dogs in the size category of my choice. And my choice--oh gosh, this is much harder than talking about my sex life--is the category they call, um,


Yes! I admit it! I like little dogs! I've already fallen for Twinkie, and I'm deeply afeared that after I finish this blog entry, I'll just have to sort of, you know, stop by Dogster for a minute. Sort of like the way I used to "just stop by" Pogo for an hour or so at a time to play that infernal game with the anthropoid cactus and the popping balloons.

Speaking of which, thank ha'shem for CyberChess. It may be absolutely, gratuitously, laden down with unneccesary CGI (the pieces, when they're captured, either burst into flames, melt into goo, or freeze and shatter; if you lose as many pieces as I do, the total effect is incredibly demoralizing) but at least I'm stretching my head a little, and eventually one hopes I will become a better chess player, against the inevitable day when AX demands a rematch for the trouncing I gave him the first time we played together.

But I was coming clean about my adoration of little dogs. The title of this entry is one of the aliases given to another Dogster denizen, whose given name is Frijolita. Frijolita (technically, "little girl bean") is not just a Chihuahua, but a Chihuahua/Rat Terrier mix. Which probably means she's as wily as she is barky, but she's just so darn cute with her little pink tongue sticking out. Am I going to turn into one of those women who carries a little dog around under her arm? Crazy cat lady, sure, I'm ready for that. I've been aspiring for years to be the woman at the end of the block whose house only gets visited by the bravest (or stupidest) kids on Halloween. But Chihuahua/Rat Terrier mix? The very idea raises a flood of images in my visual mind, and they all involve rhinestone collars, knockoff Faberge eggs, and long enameled cigarette holders in nauseating profusion.

Speaking for a moment of cats, I know one in Granada, Spain named Chorizo. Interestingly the word is not only a kind of sausage, but a synonym for "thief". The cat of my acquaintance was named "thief" for stealing a bit of sausage--how appropriate is that? He lives with friends of Slice's in a house in the Albaicin, the old quarter. Now he gets oxtail for supper and slips through the spaces between bricks that were old back when the Moors held Granada. Chorizo and I got along fine; I usually get along with cats, and until recently considered myself solidly a cat person. Perhaps lately I've been absorbing some mysterious, mind-softening radiation from Sirius, the dog star. Dog rays? I don't know if the standard design aluminum-foil helmet will protect me, but perhaps a good sturdy waterbowl? There are photos of me as a baby, up to my chubby shoulder in the dog's waterbowl. It would be fitting for me to wear one again.

A trivia note, one that is probably entirely false but what the hell. I've been told that the canid that is genetically closest to the wolf is--are you ready?-- the Standard Poodle. Yes, that ever-suffering, over-styled, toenail-polish-wearing pup with the pufflets of fur around its dainty ankles is the closest four-legged to the majestic, haunting, brooding wolf. Yes!

Which explains a lot to me about Toy Poodles. Bad enough being a Standard, where you still have some heft and through that, some dignity. But the Toy guys, poor kids. Lots of under-arm carrying, dainty liver-flavored nibbles, the ribbons, you name it. And the whole time they're thinking--here's your chance to imagine a threateningly growly voice with an unfortunately high pitch--we were WOLVES once, damnit! Wolves! Mighty predators!

Just wait. They're biding their time. One of these days the dog scientists will surmount the opposable thumb problem, and then we'll all be in for it. Better to make friends with them now.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

unforeseen advantages of polyamory

Something I had read and been told has started to make more sense to me. Working from a monogamous mindset, we expect so much of our romantic partners that we’re pretty much bound to be disappointed. I think about some of the first dates I’ve been on, both with people I’ve met online and the old-fashioned fleshy way, and how I’ve studiously applied all the principles espoused by the self-help books that promise to help you find your one true mate. Which questions to ask, what signals to watch for, and so on. Things that are considered important for women in my age cohort to consider, what with our decaying eggs and all the rest of it. Remain unmarried into your mid-thirties, and suddenly dating becomes laden. And you know what? It’s exhausting! If I’m spending the whole date checking what I’m learning against the list in my head, I could be missing something wonderful and subtle. Whereas if I accept that there probably isn’t one person in the world who is going to match that list exactly, but that there might be a few who hit most of the high notes, suddenly I’m free to enjoy the differences between the people I meet and the unrealistic fantasy mate I’m carrying around in my head.

So I went on a Friendster date last night with a gentleman of the Southern persuasion; a (by my standards) fairly butch fella who likes motorcycles, beer, and reggae music. Not an obvious first choice, seeing my tendency towards hyper-intellectual and often quite neurotic straight men that other people mistake for gay (AX, I am not speaking of you now, except of course on point the first. Not that being mistaken for gay is a bad thing.) But because I wasn’t all caught up in is this the ONE? type thinking, I was able to actually hear what was being said.

And it was good stuff. I mean, hardcore environmental activism. Passion for his work. Sweetness.

And knowing that the gentleman who’s getting the bulk of my affection these days actively supports this sort of behavior was icing. The evening was just so easy and pleasant.

About a year into my we-are-absolutely-monogamous thing with Slice, I developed a crush on a coworker. While I never acted on it in the way I so desperately wanted to, I still got in trouble when I admitted the infatuation to Slice. The fact that I wanted Dart became a sign that I didn’t love my partner (completely untrue), not that I was simply attracted to someone who could offer me something different in addition to the relationship I already had (very, very true.) It became an ISSUE in my relationship with Slice, which is ironic in light of the fact that he eventually slept with someone else and then lied to me about it; a situation whose ugliness could have been avoided had he taken my initial offer to open the relationship up. But the point is, what might have just blown over had it had a chance for expression became a BIG DEAL that had to get dragged through couples counseling repeatedly, and expensively. In the last year of our partnership I often said that I felt like Slice sucked all the air out of the room, but I think now that sensation had as much to do with my fear of being trapped in an emotionally and sexually exclusive relationship with one person when that didn’t seem, at heart, to be in my best interests.

I am still hesitant about a lot of this stuff. A friend is graciously trying to pimp one of her friends to me, a member of her merry poly band who is free some evenings when his wife is out on dates with hot babes. I’m having a hard time believing this can work this way; it flies in the face of everything I’ve been taught. And clearly it’s best accomplished with people who aren’t just poly-curious like myself but secure in their choice; I’m starting to have real sympathy for the two people who have been trying to show me the virtues of this particular path. Especially considering that some polytheorists categorically state that you should leave mono people alone. But as I said to Paz last night, suddenly I seem to be surrounded by poly people...where did my mono friends GO?

In other, sadder news, my mother told me yesterday that my father hadn’t read in two days, that he’d been too tired. This is a really bad sign. Tonight I modeled for Fifi, who I’ve been working for privately for a decade, and while I put on my clothes and she sorted and trimmed the drawings she’d made, we talked about my going home. She had me so worked up by the time I finally left that I decided to bail on the troupe potluck I was supposed to hit and just head straight to Orbitz to look at plane tickets. I’m thinking last week of April.